What Does the Perfect Bar Customer Experience Look Like in 2023?

Some factors transcend vibes and aesthetics


From the neighborhood dive plastered floor to ceiling with stickers to the sleek hotel bar complete with live piano entertainment, bars can take many forms. But for all that divides them — music, color palette, patronage — one crucial aspiration unites them. Any bar owner or manager worth their salt aims to give their clientele the best possible experience.

What does perfect mean in so diverse a field as bar operation? Honky tonk may make perfect sense in a Wild West-themed saloon, while a suburban brewpub may call for slightly more modern fare. Neither choice is inherently wrong, and that’s often true for the smaller details of an individual establishment. However, while figuring out your establishment’s vibe might be your first priority, you’ll also want to make sure you’re giving your customers a modern, intuitive experience. Ensuring a smooth customer experience from ordering to payment never goes out of style, and modern hospitality technology can help you raise customer satisfaction and retention regardless of whether you work in a t-shirt or a bowtie. Here are some ways to make sure your bar can compete with the neighborhood hotspots while staying true to your aesthetic.


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Digital signage

A chalkboard is one of the oldest and most reliable means of conveying to customers exactly what’s on the menu. It’s easily updated and can be customized with little flourishes that express your bar’s identity. But it can also be difficult to read, especially if you like to keep your bar lights low to maintain a cozy mood and cumbersome to update.

Digital signage solves this problem with style. It’s eye-catching, easy to read, and can be just as lively and personal as a chalkboard with a little personalization. It’s also just as easy to update with the special cocktails of the day and can include promotional materials such as photos of the drinks in question. Most importantly, customers appreciate the clarity of the information: One study found that items promoted on digital signage sold 33% more.

QR Codes

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, some brave restaurants and bars had begun to implement the QR code in their customer experience. These codes have a multitude of uses beginning at the ordering phase. Guests can use QR codes placed on tables or around the bar to access the menu, making it fast and easy to see what's available without worrying about making sure the lights are bright enough for paper menu reading. Digital menus can be kept up to date in real-time without additional printing costs, provide additional information about offerings, and be effortlessly customized to match the aesthetic of your establishment.

QR codes also allow guests to pay their bills from their phones, prompting them along the way to opt into loyalty and rewards programs, and directing them to your bar's app should you have one or an app like CityCheers. By the end of their time in the bar, QR codes will have made ordering and payment smoother and faster, making them more likely to return and freeing up seats more efficiently, all while building their relationship with your brand.

CityCheers understands that deep connections between customers and brands lead to improved experiences on both ends. Contact us today to learn how the CityCheers app can better connect you to your customers.

Self-service pours

Another emerging trend among bars is the self-pour wall. These features are still a relatively rare phenomenon, which means incorporating one in your establishment could become a major differentiator between you and your competition. Customers swipe a credit card when they first enter, opening a tab that corresponds to a card or RFID wristband used to activate the self-pour wall. The guest then pours however much they want of whatever drink they want — some bars also include cocktails, wines, and ciders among the self-pour offerings — and the card or wristband tracks the amount poured and charges the guest by the ounce. When the guest hits the standard limit of 32 ounces, the card or wristband stops working until reactivated by staff after a new purchase.

Self-pouring’s novelty attracts new customers and allows them to try out several different offerings from your menu in a customized flight. That’s big for beer and craft cocktail enthusiasts, but it’s just as valuable for customers who simply don’t know what they want yet and are looking for a new favorite or go-to option. In addition to serving your customers quickly and giving them something to talk about, these self-pour stations free up your staff to focus on quality of service, ensuring every guest has exactly what they need.

Mobile payment

Alongside online ordering, mobile payments gained major ground in the past few years. Smartphones are among the most common methods of contactless payment thanks to near-field communication (NFC) technology, which manufacturers have implemented in 94% of the smartphones in use worldwide. That’s part of why the total value of contactless payments reached $4.6 trillion worldwide in 2022 and is expected to climb to $10 trillion by 2027.

Mobile payment may be the most convenient payment method available to customers, and it’s certainly among the fastest. Offering payment through a mobile device ensures customers can pay how and when they want, leaving them with a positive last impression of their time at your establishment and making them that much more likely to return.

How CityCheers can help

When it comes to the perfect bar experience, streamlining and convenience are the name of the game. That’s why CityCheers created the ExpressCheck feature, which allows customers to pay their tabs from their phones without having to flag down a bartender or wait on a server. Bars get busy, and patrons have time constraints. With ExpressCheck, your guests don't need to sweat through flagging down an occupied bartender to close out and make it to the theater before the lights go down. Instead, they can pay when they want to — including a customized tip — without wasting precious time. Our app also lets you communicate with your customers, sending them special offers and building their relationship with your business.

Contact us today to find out how the CityCheers app can benefit you.